Plans for a new oil and gas field in the North Sea have been approved by the UK Government – three months on from COP26 climate talks.
The Abigail field, which is to cost £200m, has been approved for construction off the east coast of Scotland in a move that climate change organisation Uplift say “worsens the climate crisis”.
The announcement of the oil field, which was given consent on January 19 by the Oil and Gas Authority, comes just months after global climate discussions took place in Glasgow.
The controversial new field is due to contain 5.5m barrels of oil equivalent, which will be split equally between oil and gas.
Tessa Khan, director of Uplift, said: “Why is the government sanctioning an oil and gas development that will see little to no benefit for UK energy customers or taxpayers, which only worsens the climate crisis, and where the only winners are the oil firm behind the project.
“If we carry on down this path, we’ll be dependent on a very expensive, highly polluting energy source for decades longer than is necessary.
“A serious response from the government to both unaffordable energy bills and the climate crisis, would see all this investment steered into cheaper UK renewables.
“The government needs to stop rolling over for the oil and gas industry, stop dishing out licences, and get on with making sure people have access to affordable, renewable energy.”
Caroline Rance, climate and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Once again we see the UK Government saying one thing and doing another, having reaffirmed their commitment to ‘keeping 1.5ºC alive’ at COP26 and just weeks later approving new oil and gas fields.
“Meantime, it is pressing ahead with a farcical plan which would allow continued oil and gas production for years to come. The government’s so-called climate test is designed to set the bar so low that the oil industry gets to lock us into their climate-wrecking business as usual for decades to come.
“The simple fact is that there is no such thing as a climate compatible oil and gas development. Climate science is crystal clear that burning fossil fuels is the key driver of the climate crisis and that there can be no new oil and gas fields anywhere in the world if we’re to limit warming to the 1.5ºC limit.
“The UK Government should immediately stop granting permission for new oil and gas projects, and instead begin a managed phase out of existing fields while ensuring a just transition for affected workers and communities.
“Every new field harms the ability of workers to transition by continuing to channel public money and support into fossil fuels instead of into increasing renewables, creating new jobs and supporting workers to retrain.“
A UK Government spokesperson said: “While we are working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels, there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years as we transition to lower carbon, more secure forms of energy generated in this country.
“We cannot turn off our domestic source of gas overnight, as recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee.
“That would put energy security, British jobs and industries at risk, and we would be even more dependent on foreign imports.”